Most think WikiLeaks more harmful than good

12/11/2010 12:00 AM

12/11/2010 12:04 AM

WASHINGTON — Americans overwhelmingly think that WikiLeaks is doing more harm than good by releasing classified U.S. diplomatic cables, and they want to see the people behind it prosecuted, according to a new McClatchy-Marist Poll.

"Clearly people are very unhappy with it," said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., which conducted the national poll.

The survey found that 70 percent of Americans think the leaks are doing more harm than good by allowing America's enemies to see confidential and secret information about U.S. foreign policy.

Just 22 percent think the leaks are doing more good than harm by making the U.S. government more transparent and accountable, the stated goal of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The greatest opposition to the leaks comes from Republicans, 81 percent of whom call the leaks harmful. The strongest source of support is liberals, 35 percent of whom think the leaks do more good than harm. Even among liberals, though, a solid majority of 58 percent called the leaks more harmful than helpful.

The poll also found that 59 percent of Americans think those who publish secret U.S. documents should be prosecuted, while 31 percent said the publication of secrets is protected under the First Amendment guarantee of a free press.

The survey of 1,029 adults was conducted Dec. 2-8. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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